Mancuso: Jeter Gets An Endorsement

Mike Aviles concluded his ninth year in the Major Leagues and is aware of transition. The 36-year old New Yorker and veteran of six teams completed his latest stint with the Miami Marlins and his offseason will be consumed with family and awaiting a call.

This veteran waiting for that call at home in Santa Clara Utah is nothing new. Aviles has been  a part of this transition with the Red Sox, Indians, Tigers, and Marlins the past six years so patience is a virtue at this juncture of his career.

The Marlins, that’s another situation with new ownership and a future Hall of Famer in Derek Jeter who has been optimistic about his team regarding their youth and getting back to contention and there will be a diminished payroll in the plan. 

With Aviles listed as a free agent he is used to the transition and one more stint with the Marlins may or may not be in the works. Another team is always a possibility because he is role player needed in a utility role. 

“Anytime a team wants to sign you, I personally feel that’s a good thing,” said Aviles “They see you in a mindset that can help with certain skills from a baseball skill point with knowledge. I’ve been on good teams and bad teams. I’ve seen both ends that work and don’t work.”

The Marlins this year saw it work with Aviles. He was that valuable utility player and came off the bench to deliver a timely hit and also had a good glove in the infield. A career .261 hitter, drafted by the Kansas City Royals as a seventh round pick in 2003, Aviles hit .233 in 86 at bats.

He got on base. That is important for a utility player and he made those at bats count when manager Don Mattingly went to the bench. While 20 hits and 6 RBI are not huge numbers, they came at a time when the Marlins were still contending for a NL Wild Card in early September.

“I watch the game, pay attention, get loose in the third or fourth inning,” said Aviles. “I go up to hit and see what the pitchers can do. I know at any given time you can get in and always be ready.”

With the uncertain roster moves down in Miami and  new ownership in place, Aviles would welcome an opportunity to return. He is a Bronx Bomber at heart who played Little League ball at Bronxchester and stayed close to home with success at Concordia College up in Westchester County.  

“I feel I can help the team.” he said. “Talent is here and they are not far from being a competitor in the NL East. When you look around it’s a good competitive division and you have some good players.”

The Marlins finished second to the Nationals with 77 wins and the offense centered around MLB home run leader and right fielder Giancarlo Stanton with his record contract. The Jeter group may want to trade away 13 years and $325 million or Stanton, a fan favorite, could stay put and with  Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich that comprises perhaps one of the best outfields in baseball.

Aviles wants to be a part of a team that is controlled by Jeter.  There is the Bronx and the Yankees, and he was one of his biggest fans give or take a few years. However it is that competitive approach to winning that Derek Jeter knows, and Aviles wants to feel that more just like it was as a youngster playing baseball in the Bronx.

“It’s a good thing,” said Aviles about Jeter assuming the new role. He has met him a few times and the only thing in common is their respect for the game.

He said,  “You know, growing up watching what Jeter was able to do on the field, the way he was a leader, whether he was playing well or not, I think that is something that will reflect in his new role. He’s going to understand this is what we need to win. He’s won on every level, also he’s going to understand injuries are a part of the game.”

Yes, those injuries and something that has been a part of  Mike Aviles during this transition of a career that sidelined him with a bad wrist, but this was  something he has overcome because adversity is a part of being in the big leagues.

And having Derek Jeter as the owner does make this easier to understand, regardless if Mike Aviles remains a Marlin. He believes this will be beneficial to the eventual roster in Miami because the Yankees premiere all-star for years had his share of those injuries.

“Everybody I talked to think it’s awesome.” said Aviles. “Knowing his accolades what he brings to the table and if you play shortstop. He has a certain way of talking to people, to listen and understand and that can go a long way. Whatever position he’s taking, I think it will help because of the knowledge he has.”

And if Jeter does not re-sign Mike Aviles, he wants to continue. He says the wrist is fine, “As long as teams allow me to play, I’d like to. I take care of myself, workout and know how hard the game is”

So the rigorous wait and preparation of the offseason has started for Mike Aviles. And as he says, “Just enjoy the game. The only thing I wanted to do since I was a kid.”

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About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and BoxingInsider.com, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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